In recent months, there have been many calls to regulate e-cigs, and potentially to regulate the marketing of all sorts of vaping products, including a call last week by an FCC Commissioner in an op-ed article in USA Today.  As we wrote several months ago, these suggestions have been based in the fear that increased promotion of vaping products have led to an increase in tobacco use among children.  While the FDA has been taking efforts to crack down on flavored vaping products to reduce their appeal to kids, the makers of e-cigs still advertise, including on radio and TV.  And those advertisements bring us frequent questions about whether the FCC has rules about advertising these products.  So far, the FCC has had no real role in regulating these products.  In fact, one wonders if it really has any authority to take action against the advertising of e-cigs without Congressional action.

So far, all the limits on e-cig advertising have been imposed by other agencies – principally, the FDA.  The FDA requires a tag on all vaping ads, stating that these products contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance (see our articles here and here for more details about that requirement).  And these ads should not claim health benefits for vaping.  Given the FDA’s concern about children, any ads should also stay out of programming with a large audience of children.  Could the FCC itself do more?
Continue Reading A Call to Regulate E-Cig Advertising – What is the FCC’s Role in Regulating Advertising For the Vices?

I had an interesting question this week – asking why beer companies won’t advertise on radio stations with younger demographics.  Was it a law or just a marketing decision?  What I found is that it is a little of both.  While there are no laws specifically prohibiting the advertising of beer on radio stations with younger audiences, the Federal Trade Commission and Congress have been very concerned about all alcohol advertising, especially advertising that appears to encourage under-aged drinking. Thus, to avoid regulation, the Beer Institute has adopted voluntary standards that require its members to advertise only on radio stations which have an audience that is at least 70% comprised of those older than the legal drinking age. 

The FTC has periodically issued reports on advertising for alcoholic beverages, the last report having been issued in 2003.  Appendix D to that report contains the Beer Institute guidelines.  As set forth in those guidelines, the industry looks to audience demographics, by daypart, in deciding whether or not its members should buy time on a particular station.  If the Arbitron or similar ratings data shows 30% or more of a station’s audience in a given daypart is under 21, then there will be no advertising in that daypart on the station. Continue Reading Britney and No Beer – Why Beer Companies Don’t Advertise on Radio Stations With Young Demos